8 genre comics to read if you're tired of superheroes

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Apr 27, 2017, 4:41 PM EDT (Updated)

I'm a fan of capes and tights comics (our affectionate name for superheroes), but sometimes I get tired of the constant theme of superhumans. Even if you aren't reading much Marvel or DC Comics, superheroes are everywhere. It's easy to want something different.

Many people conflate "comics" with "superheroes," and it’s true that the bulk of comics that are produced do indeed feature superbeings. But there are plenty of amazing science fiction and fantasy comics that don't (plus an added bonus: these comics also are often more diverse on the page and behind the scenes). If you're looking for some amazing sci-fi and fantasy comics but are tired of superhero antics, check out these awesome genre comics.

Southern Cross - Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge (Image Comics)

Alex Braith is on her way to Saturn's moon Titan for the worst of reasons: She's going to claim her sister's body. Amber was working an administrative job; Alex is sure there's more going on surrounding her death than it first appears, and she's determined to find out why. But on the journey, there's something strange going on aboard the ship Alex is on, the Southern Cross ...

This is a weird, creepy series that has a ton of atmosphere. Come for the excellent sci-fi mystery, stay for the difficult character of Alex, who doesn’t feel the need to be nice or liked.


Agents of the Realm - Mildred Louis

Five young women, all starting their first year in college. Life is complicated enough, but something happens to make things even worse (or better, depending on how you look at it?): They discover that they're tasked not only with protecting our own world, but with a different dimension entirely. They must balance being college students with their duties as awesome magical girls. Agents of the Realm is a webcomic, so you can read the entire thing, start to present, online for free. If you love it, consider supporting the creator, Mildred Louis, on Patreon or by buying the first volume of the comic.


Alex + Ada - Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna (Image)

In the future, people can order realistic androids as companions to help around the house (and sometimes more). Their programming is limited; though the androids can learn and follow commands, they are prevented by achieving any sort of sentience through safeguards. Alex has no desire for an X5 android, but his grandmother orders him one as a joke because she thinks he's lonely. At first Alex is intent on sending Ada back, but as he gets to know her, he realizes there's more to her than first appears. This bittersweet love story is one of my favorite comics ever written; it seems so simple, with clean lines and muted colors, but it's anything but.


Invisible Republic - Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd (Image)

If you say "King Arthur retelling," I pretty much automatically say "TAKE MY MONEY," which is why I love Invisible Republic. A reporter discovers the journal of a young woman, Maia, on a planet called Avalon, and he finds the forgotten history of a freedom fighter named Arthur McBride. The narrative jumps between past and present, as the reporter tries to determine what happened to Arthur and his revolution. The incredible art is what really makes this sci-fi political thriller work.


Wilde Life - Pascalle Lepas

When Oscar Wilde (no relation to the infamous writer) finds himself in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma, he isn't sure what to think. The house he is renting is full of the furniture of the previous tenants, who appear to have left in a hurry, without taking their belongings. And he keeps catching something out of the corner of his eye. Things just keep getting stranger and stranger for Oscar. This beautifully drawn webcomic features stories from Native American mythology, and you can read it for free online.


Saga - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

I went back and forth on whether to include Saga on this list: After all, if you're reading a comic other than Marvel or DC, chances are it's this space fantasy opera. But it's just so good that I couldn't resist. If you don't know Saga, it features Marko and Alana, two star-crossed lovers from warring planets who just want a safe place to raise their daughter. Hunted and on the run, they must figure out how to keep themselves alive. It's hard to overstate just how good this comic is or how incredible Staples' drawing, colors, and lettering are. This is a modern classic for a reason, and you should pick it up immediately.


Hearthrob - Christopher Sebela, Robert Wilson IV and Nick Filardi (Oni Press)

Callie knows she doesn't have long to live; the heart transplant she's about to have is her last chance. But even after it happens, the doctor tells her she has a limited time — and what would you do if you only had years to live? Callie decides it's time to quit her dead-end job and start living life to the fullest. But what she doesn't expect is that the former owner of the heart in her chest will begin to haunt her — or that she'll begin to fall in love with him. This is a story of romance and the crazy things we do when we fall in love — even if it's with an actual ghost.


Pretty Deadly - Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos (Image Comics)

If 'weird' is your thing, then Pretty Deadly is the comic you need to be reading. It's a fantasy-horror-western as bizarre as it is amazing. It focuses on the origin story of the daughter of Death, Ginny, who rides a horse made of smoke. Sissy is a little girl who is eventually fated to defeat Death and take on his mantle. This is a fantastical story of awesome women; if you haven't treated yourself to Emma Ríos' art before, these two volumes are the perfect introduction to her amazing style.

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